Many members have been asking what risk level and precaution level they should be taking for the children, teenagers and adults with a single ventricle heart condition.
It is important to remember that everyone with half a heart is different but it has been agreed that anyone with half a heart is in the vulnerable group. This means that although many of them will cope with COVID-19 with ease some will have a tougher recovery.
We know that some of LHM’s young members will now be in the new highest risk group. If you, or you children, are in this group you will receive a letter, phone call or text this week to tell you to take specific action.
To date there are three types of advice
This now applies to everyone. Keep at least two metres from anyone other than people in your household. You can go to food shops, pharmacies, banks, post offices and petrol stations. But no family gatherings, no socialising. Only go to work if you are an essential worker. Stay at home as much as possible.
You may be needed to help other vulnerable people by checking they are ok, doing their shopping and collecting their prescriptions. Keep your distance from then when you deliver anything.
- Wash your hands after every outside contact.
- Do not put your hands to your face.
- If you sneeze or cough do so into a paper tissue and throw it away.
- If you have any signs of the virus follow the steps set out below.
This applies to anyone in the vulnerable group, most children, teenagers and adults with single ventricle heart disease belong in this group. If you can distance yourself from anyone that you do not essentially have to see you should do so. Get someone to do the shopping, pick up prescriptions and stay at home, you can play in the garden. Potentially, as long as you do not use public transport you could go for a walk or a bike ride in a wide open space. No playgrounds. If the park is crowded go home.
If you have a doctor’s appointment, INR or medical test planned they should be attended BUT ring ahead to make sure that the appointment is still necessary and that the tests are still being done.
If you live alone or are unable to ask someone to get your shopping, you are able to visit the supermarket but with super care, this would be seen as essential contact.
A few people with a single ventricle heart may sit in this higher risk group. If they do they will be contacted by their medical team. Their instruction will be 12 weeks of shutting yourself away in your home. No face-to-face outside contact.
Even within your home you should isolate yourself away from other members of the family as much as you can. The nurses who ring or text you will give you the right advice.
If you live alone you will be given contact numbers for local teams who will supply you with medication and food.
If a parent, carer or sibling catches COVID-19
The most common signs are
- Persistent cough
- High temperature
- Increased breathlessness
If any member of the household shows signs of COVID-19 they need to isolate themselves for 7 days. The rest of the household have to isolate themselves for 14 days. This means no going out. Arranging for all shopping to be brought to the house and delivered to outside the door. No face-to-face contact with the outside world.
For more information on stay at home guidance click here.
Set out here is guidance for what a family with a vulnerable member must do if one of the household get the virus.
What do you do if someone with a single ventricle heart condition shows signs of Coronavirus?
If you have these symptoms – dry cough and/or a temperature greater than 37.8oC or you feel hot to touch.
Follow the guidance as laid out on this NHS Coronavirus page.
Only contact 111 if you are unable to cope with your symptoms at home, trust your instincts about how you feel, but if you feel worse over the next few days call 111 and tell them you have a congenital heart condition. The 111 service are the best people to advise how you can help.
Do not self-present to your cardiac centre as hospitals have a plan for where patients with the virus are admitted.
Our NHS is extremely skilled in looking after sick patients so for any medical professionals you interact with make sure you have a copy of your last clinic report to show to them. It will give details of your diagnosis and contact information for your specialist team.
It is also important that you inform your Cardiac Specialist Nurse so they can link with the specialist infection team looking after you or your child.
Please stay safe and remember that the LHM team is always here.
Suzie Hutchinson and Dr David Crossland
23rd March 2020